Live Review: Fozzy – Nightrain, Bradford 17.02.24

Anyone who has watched WWE / AEW over the years will know that Chris Jericho always had a preference for rock as his walk on music. So it’s perhaps no surprise that he’s turned the tables, and used his pro-wrestling showmanship to front Fozzy – the band formed in Atlanta in 1999 as a cover band, when guitarist Rich Ward asked Jericho to step in to sing with the band.

Since then, they’ve gone on to release 8 studio albums, none of which have really troubled the UK charts, but everyone who rocked up to Nightrain in Bradford on the weekend wouldn’t have cared a bit about that. Fozzy is very much about the live show – a tight, hugely experienced band with a front man who knows just how to get an audience on side from his days in sports entertainment.

First up though, we get the excellent Pistols at Dawn. Their guitarist, playing lit-up red guitar in a virtuoso solo eventually welcomes his band mates to the stage and they deliver a set which will have won them a lot of fans. A big sound, a charismatic and energetic vocalist, they fit the bill perfectly to kick off for the headliners.

Next, it’s The Hot Damn! a pop rock outfit who deliver 40 minutes of non-stop fun driven by Josie O’Toole on her rainbow coloured drum kit and Gill Montgomery on guitar/vocals. Rounded out by some great guitars from Laurie Buchanan who playfully engages with the crowd throughout and Lzi Hayes’ bass, it’s a solid sound, crowned with some excellent harmonies and witty lyrics that was utterly infectious.   

The lights go down, and Fozzy take the stage before Jericho emerges from the smoke to take centre stage on a small platform to elevate him above the musicians. 

Before the gig, having listened to the records, I was curious as to how Jericho’s voice might translate into the live environment. There’s a lot of auto tune on the records and a hugely competent band. In particular Ward, who effortlessly shreds behind a very cool, laid back persona and Grant Brooks drumming give a lot of depth to the recorded version. 

Ward is great on stage, and Brooks’ presence is fantastic, but the overall sound is somewhat limited by the use of an electronic kit – something I don’t think I’ve ever seen at a rock show. 

Vocally, it does sound like it’s a struggle for Jericho on occasions, and I get the sense that Ward, Billy Grey and P.J. Farley are doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

In the room though, packed to the Nightrain rafters, it’s the force of Jericho’s persona that crashes over them like a tsunami and that well honed showmanship draws the audience into regular chants of “Fozzy! Fozzy! Fozzy!” hand cupped to his ear as he would if he was standing on the ring post in a huge arena.

Certainly, some of the songs stand up on their own too. Sane is probably the highlight, with Jericho leaning out over the audience, roaring the lyrics while the backing vocals really bring this alive. Judas has great singalong hooks and is regularly sung out by AEW crowds. Both are sung back enthusiastically by a partisan crowd. 

Relax – a cover of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic – is popular, but ordinary. It sounds like Jericho is performing a karaoke over the backing track, and really doesn’t tell us anything about what the band is all about. 

Overall, it feels a bit style over substance – for example Jericho firing a smoke gun over the front row certainly looks good, but doesn’t really add to the quality of the output. It’s just as well the style is pretty damn good though, as it carries the crowd off into the streets of Bradford with smiles on their faces and rock ringing in their ears.

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